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  1. #1

    Default The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante

    I did not want to put this in the books section, because it is not a book that I would recommend. Even if I was going to put it there, I would not know what age group to put it under.

    Mainly wanted to ask, has anyone else read this? It is so beyond weird. I both read to my kids and let my kids read some dark stuff (The Riverman trilogy, The Imaginary, and The Song From Somewhere Else have been some recent ones), but The Beach at Night is more disturbing than dark. I really don't see how this is marketed as a kids book. I think it is a book for adults. The themes are so disturbing. I gather some of this is made worse by the translation from Italian to English, and that it was apparently "simpler" in Italian, but still. I really don't see how having a book about being abandoned, violated by a horrible old man, almost burned to death, and almost drowned is a children's book. And I know lots of the old fairytales are creepy and scary as well, but this seems to go next level even compared with those.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

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  3. #2


    That book seems really creepy! Way too scary for me.
    From the Amazon reviews, it seems to have been liked by her (adult) fans, and nobody said “great book for kids”.
    Maybe because it is illustrated, it got shoved into the “children’s” genre? Like how Ghibli movies would be filled with previews for kiddie animations.
    How did your daughter react?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    I had picked it up for my 5 year old and was reading it out loud to her. So when I got into it, I just heavily edited it. Even then it was still a very dark story. I think most of it went over her head thankfully. It does have some really great writing in it describing the sea when it is a storm, but overall it is so not a kids story. Our library has four copies of it in the children's section and describe it as a lovely story about a doll.

    She did crack up laughing at some of it. Particularly a part about a plastic pony melting in the fire and it just had a big hole in its head rather than a mouth and all it could say was "bok" before it burst into flames. But she has a pretty weird sense of humor. She also really likes when characters in books (that don't speak in real life) say random things. We had one recently that was set in Australia and told from the perspective of two dogs. They were in the outback and came across an Aboriginal camp with some chickens. Oh there has never been so much laughing over a dog running after chickens saying "hen hen hen" and the hen running away saying "dog dog dog".

    Anyway, The Beach at Night is the only book I have encountered in my oldest's lifetime of reading that I have thought "I can't read this to them", and I am pretty liberal in just letting them grab whatever they want off the shelf. The only other one I have hesitated over was The Riverman Trilogy but that was clearly aimed at older kids, was still somehow not as creepy as this little book, and I let my 9 year old read it after reading it myself.

    It think you are right, that it is more meant for adults and its being wrongly assumed to be a kids book. And/or it has been changed a lot in translation.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  5. #4


    Hmmm. Maybe suggest to the librarian that she read the book before deciding to put it in the children’s section? (Not suggest that it be pulled from the shelves, just not next to Clifford the Big Red Dog or Magic Treehouse.) Perhaps read aloud a well-written but inappropriate section aloud to her, so she knows you arent being overly coddling.
    It seems the kind of story that one should need to look for, not be innocently browsing for some picture book story and get it by accident.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    I emailed them about it and suggest they move it to young adult. The bits I did not read my daughter were like a song the beach caretaker sang about making the doll eat s**t and drink pee, and another bit about little boys wanting to hit girls, see their underwear, and pee on their feet with their little d**ckies. I don't think I would feel comfortable reading those bits aloud to anyone!
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

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The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante